Japanese who advocated solidarity with Uighurs before the World War 2 ―Hajime Sato

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Translation / 翻訳

Hajime Sato (beginning) was an Intelligence activist from the Meiji era to the Showa era, was active in the Qīngdǎo (青島) Special Agency, and died in Qīngdǎo in 1929. He was a remarkable person in that he lived in the Uighur area for three years before the war, converted to Islam and advocated solidarity with the Uighurs.

an Uyghur man with a donkey

Born in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1887, he went on to study at Seiseiko Kumamoto, but in 1902 or 1903, just before the Russo-Japanese War began, he dropped out and moved to Manchuria. He was indignant at the fact that the Russian Empire had extended its tentacles to the Far East, and began to travel further from Manchuria to Siberia to investigate the situation, but during the investigation, Japan and Russia were in a state of war. In Siberia, he was arrested by the Russian government on suspicion of spying and was imprisoned in the direction of Central Asia and Turkestan.

By being exiled to Central Asia, he became exposed to Islamic religious activities and Muslim people, and became attracted to Islam as a religion and became a Muslim. He came to call himself “Kaizan(回山)”.  “Kai(回)” is taken from “Islam”. He was released, but stayed in Central Asia for a few years to study the situation in the region.


He returned to Japan once, but in 1915 he went to Ili, the current Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, with Kamesuke Nagamine, the Army General Staff. He stayed in Yili and Urumqi for about three years to collect information about the area.

Uyghur instruments

Partly due to the influence of Sato, the idea of ​​Japan’s solidarity with Uighurs was born within the Army. In the late 1920s, Senjuro Hayashi, the principal of Army War College, said:

“The communist revolution overthrown imperial Russia. Under its influence, the most adjacent Khalkha Mongols (under the influence of the Soviet Union, outside Mongolia, 1924, the second socialist state in the world, established as the People’s Republic of Mongolia) became independent, but if both sides completed domestic development, the ideological attack would naturally spread to the four neighbors …. Khalkha Mongols on the right wing embankment collapsed into the communist camp. But the left wing embankment in the direction of Xinjiang Province is a people with strong religious beliefs, I think that the special religious power of Islam is a line that leads from Central Asia to Turkey, which is not just for Xinjiang, but it is a power that can not be dealt with overnight.”

In this way, the prewar Japanese military considered Muslim strategy by maintaining the good sentiment of the Turkish people toward Japan. In the 1930s, Japan’s military planned to let inland Asian Turkish Uighur Muslim nationalists uprise against Soviet Union and China and realize their independence, destabilizing those two countries.

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